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Oct 19, 2006



I have on problem slamming SL, so...

Making a teen-only island might assuage COPPA, but in reality, it serves the exact opposite purpose, creating a honey pot for pedos. There's not way to confirm age here, so every pedo in the virtual world would go there with their 16 yr. old avatar.





Hikaru wrote:

Making a teen-only island might assuage COPPA, but in reality, it serves the exact opposite purpose, creating a honey pot for pedos. There's not way to confirm age here, so every pedo in the virtual world would go there with their 16 yr. old avatar.

A teen-only island has nothing to do with COPPA, which restricts gathering of personal information about people who haven't yet reached their teenage (age 13) years yet.

It may be a honey pot, but it also may be a honey trap. Habbo, for instance, has managed to largely avoid (so I'm told by both current and ex-employees) big problems with sexual predators by simply being very proactive in monitoring the community. Not sure what Linden does in this regards, but the mere existence of a teen-oriented virtual world isn't really something to get down on Linden about, in my opinion at least.



I wish more games allowed adults to segregate themselves from teenagers!


As someone intimately involved in the running of a very adult club on my island in SL, I would def. want some kind of mechanism to restrict non adult users from entering my club-- not only for the safety of the kids but also because most of the people who visit my club would *not* be comfortable with having a child on the premises anymore than I would.


I absolutely agree that there should be ways for landowners in SL to be able to restrict access--whether it's for adult activities, quiet conversation, or something else.

But I don't think the solution is to completely segregate the two grids--there should be areas in which adults and kids _can_ interact.

One approach would be to invert the current approach, and allow individual landowners to explicitly allow teens on their property. That would mean that private spaces intended for a broad audience, like the library or BBC or Annenberg outposts on SL, could open their doors to teens, while still leaving the default for other areas as restricted.


Just this week I reported someone who showed up at the adult hangout I co-manage, who was unashamedly boasting that he was only 15 and nothing mattered because SL is only a game. For his naievity alone I hope he doesn't just come back into SL with a new name and wind up in some real distress or trouble down the line.

On the other hand, an interesting and creative young man showed up at the blacklibrary one time, who gave us a link to his website which stated his age as 17. He admitted that too, openly. Now not much goes on in the blacklibrary in terms of adult situations, though the conversation would sometimes be more suitable for a pub in the evening than a coffee morning. I don't think there was much room for harm to this youth, but the rules said he had no place on the adult grid. It was a shame- he would have contributed to SL in a positive way.

If I had to make a decision, I would choose to open SL to all ages on one shared grid, but it's difficult. You can block various websites from your browser, you can even figure out some way to manage your SL land and who you give access to, but you cannot stop some chucklehead from spewing tubgirl pictures all over your screen unannounced. You can't stop it in Real Life either (flashers, or just someone posting up pages from top shelf magazines in bus shelters), but people are bigger asses on the internet, and more so when "LOL its just a game stfu!" adds to that.

I do think adults should be free to explore and express their dreams/fetishes/aspirations/whatever, but that is not the same as saying "It's ok to do this, so that means it's ok to do this anywhere." An understood mix of ages might help people in general to moderate their behaviour somewhat. There's an impression, I think, even with the existance of "PG" zones in SL, that because it's an "adults only in theory" place, anything goes. I mean when you have goreans boasting about who has the sluttiest kajirae in a welcome area (as I witnessed on the preview grid last month), that is just Not Appropriate in my view, regardless of whether any rude words were being used or not (the argument they gave about talk in PG areas).

It might stop people thinking "well there should be no kids around anyway so I can do/say what I like" to considering things more. There *are* kids in the SL main grid, but there's that plausible deniability hanging over things that says "not my fault I wasn't to know." I see people in the hard sex community areas jumping on poseballs with naked avs with people they havent even talked to. It's insane. I would not be surprised at all to find the massive traffic these places get is fuelled mostly by underage teens with overactive hormones.

Of course, the downside to opening the grid to all ages, is that the headlines alone would kill it. "Online BDSM Paedophile snuff perverts molested my daughter."


Even for someone who is as lax as I am about what kids see and don't see, I think SL is just plain inappropriate for anyone underage.

Let's be honest, SL is a sex game. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's nice that while the Linden PR machine is getting it lots of publicity, that they're being honest about the reality when it comes to underaged players.


Let's be honest, SL is a sex game. Nothing more, nothing less.

Don't forget about the illegal gambling, trafficking of pirated videos and software, tax evasion, and money laundering.


I also play MMO's with my young daughter with me, she very much enjoys WoW. I blogged about it some time ago and invite you to read my post if so inclined, here at Gamer 2.0.


@Kathy and randolfe_:

Let's not pigpile the hyperbole on SL... The entire Internet, frankly, exists for only three real purposes: IMDB, mortgage rate comparisons and porn. All else is hey-nonny-nonny.


Lets face it, if you want your child to be safe on the internet, you have to monitor them 100% of the time. You know the bad people are out there and actively hunting your children.


I am in a adult guild in EQ2. Although the guild advertises itself as adult only some minors have been recruited into the guild.

We use Ventrillo to communicate during raids. During downtimes, the conversation usually turns x-rated.

The problem is that at least one 13 year old is a regular raider. And the topics he is exposed to makes me feel uncomfortable as an adult. Although I am not a guild officer I feel like I need to speak up on his (or his parent's) behalf.

But I haven't.

I may leave this guild because of their x-rated Ventrillo banter. I just wish one day the young kid's parents would listen in while he is dragon slaying.


Interestly, we run an 'adult' guild in EQ2, but not in the more explicit content. Ours is predominantly a married, working guild. The boards and guild chat are likely to discuss career orientations, life experiences (real ones), and congratulations and commiseration on both rl and in-game events.

We currently have a few kids in the guild, but they're the kids of guild-members. They don't overly interact with the core guild, but they are in an environment where others know they are around and what they are doing. I suppose it's close to the point of the article (although not to the extreme of 'raising the child').

While my wife and I are both quite active in MMOG's, we don't have children at this point, so anything I can offer is really speculation. I'd like to think that I would rather be involved and know what my kids were doing and know that the adults around the children were at least ones I had some concept of their overt behaviors.

Seperate child-only environments are as much, or more, problematic than integrated ones. First, as noted in the article, it's simply 'rounding up all the bait' for some of the worst members of society. Second though, an all kid environment (even sans pedophiles) is prone to all forms of bad influence, even in the old-fashioned world I grew up in kids can be bad influences on each other.


The other thing I think that needs at least a passing mention here, is the idea of general media and communications training for kids. We are teaching people to use more and more sophisticated and interactive tools and media at younger and younger ages without giving them, in many cases, proper contexts. In some cases, this may because we ourselves -- as adults and parents -- haven't come up with our own contexts yet.

What do I mean? I mean that kids don't always understand the difference between the symbol and the thing. Or when/where behavior is OK in one instance, and not in another. Or group rules vs. game rules and politeness vs. kindness and roleplay vs. pretend.

I remember when my son was around 3 years old. We were watching a Thomas the Tank Engine movie for around the 209th time. He kept asking, "Is James going to be OK?" and "What's going to happen to the Conductor?" and things like that. I was perplexed, as we had seen this sooooo many times. Finally, I turned to him and said, "We've seen this before, many times." He replied. "Yes."

I then had a wonderful A-ha! moment and asked, "Do you know that movies and videos happen the same way every time?"

He turned to me and said, "Oh. No. OK, then." And never asked me another question like that about something he'd seen before. Moral: until you know, you don't know.

Same thing with lots of the stuff happening on the Web and all kinds of social situations. Can it be fun? Yep. Can it be scary? Sure. But if you educate your kids about: some rules that must not be broken; some good ideas for behavior; and some things that are totally up to you -- they're re going to be better off.


Andy said, '"Oh. No. OK, then." And never asked me another question like that about something he'd seen before.'

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As has been mentioned, it's ridiculously easy to get around age limits, and it's doubtful that LL has the motivation to prosecute children for being in SL.

I would guess that they don't intend for their separation to be effective at all, just like cigarette companies(and any intelligent company) actually want to get consumers at a young age.

Until someone develops some effective barriers to stop youths from pretending to be older, the point is largely moot. But I think that VWs shouldn't take steps to segregate areas based on age. Perhaps maturity, if a test for it could be devised.

But even then, the original question of whether or not virtual villages should be segregated at all is not answered. The arguments for and against it are the same ones which provide daycare, lead children into schools instead of letting them go to work with their parents, and created the huge babysitter market. Clearly, we believe that villages should be segregated by age and are just waiting for it to happen online.


Not at all disagreeing, Andy, but I want to push back at you with the age-old question of, "What could kids teach us?" Not arguing, just provoking. =) Perhaps there is more to the world than objectivity. *glances at the 3d thread* And there are a lot of interesting things to be explored that aren't objective at all. But I'm feeling the draw of the soapbox, so I'll go write an essay or something.


My 13 yo plays WoW. I believe that it does take a guild to raise a child. I am very happy with the kind of supportive environment the guild supplies. The vent talk goes over the top sometimes but doesnt worry me too much. They are real adults talking real adult stuff, some of the stuff is said as fun and kids recognise it as that. more at tonyforster.blogspot.com


I wish more games allowed adults to segregate themselves from teenagers!

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Let's not pigpile the hyperbole on SL...

Are there other VWs presenting themselves as mainstream which derive the vast majority of their "GDP" from activities which are allowed in game but expressly illegal externally?

I have no particular beef with SL or LL. I do take issue with operators/vendors who think that making fanciful assertions in their EULA and TOS exempts them from playing by the rules which govern everyone else. When SL and any others eventually get cracked down upon it will cause damage to the entire industry, not just renegade gamblers with avatars.

Or am I mistaken? All these $100K+ / year "businesses" and "entrepreneurs" I keep reading about are dutifully paying their taxes after all? And what other games are out there that provide me a handy dandy toolkit to set up my own digital video/music piracy business?


I can only wish WoW had support for such segregation. The quintessential "damn kids," moment for me was when I was in the Barrens once and a message from some 14 year old came across on General saying that he was really relieved that his father had left the house, since he could now proceed to smoke himself into insensibility with marijuana. The adolescent drug abuse theme actually seems particularly prevalent on Jubei'Thos...I've also been in more than one instance group where one of the members regularly exclaimed that the game was far more enjoyable while stoned.

Then of course there is the weekend server peak ritual of the naked dance party on the roof of the Orgrimmar bank, in which the juveniles in question invite people via use of the /yell command, ensuring that blocking such means we have to /ignore them individually, rather than simply being able to /leave a single chat channel.

I've actually wondered in the case of Jubei'Thos, now that I think about it, if the problem is an ethnic one, rather than being purely age related. I tend to suspect that it may be, since not only has my play experience on servers with predominantly non-Australian populations been markedly different, (and much more positive) but there was once a time when Jubei'Thos was offline for a longer period than other servers, and so its' server population migrated to another server, Scilla. I went there for a very brief period, and observed that the idiotic behaviour characteristic of Jubei'Thos was being duplicated to exactly the same degree on Scilla.


I would want my kids (who are purely imaginary at this point) to meet some of the super nice and helpful people I've met through these sorts of games, but having dealt with others' kids in these situations, I know this:

1. Kids get really annoying, really fast, unless they have a lot to contribute and are willing and patient listeners.

2. Spending significant amounts of time in-game leads to very adult chat on a number of topics, all of which kids want to hear, and none of which they understand. More adult friends and I would talk about our relationships in RL in a clean way, and 16-19 year olds listened in and really thought they understood everything that was at stake. It's really amazing how much one grows from 14-18, then 18-21, then 21-23. And after 23 there are lots of changes, too. I get along with very few between 20-22 nowadays, being 26, because they just have no clue how financial pressures and increased expectations regarding love can make life very stressful.

I'll be blunt. I don't want my kids, if I ever have them, gaming online. I want them outside running around playing pick-up games of basketball or at the mall or the library or even bowling. I want them active and engaged in the world. And the people who are truly nice and can contribute to their growth I will always be on the lookout for in games and online and in RL, and we'll all meet up in RL. I know that my kids listening to me all the time is the worst of all possible worlds. They need other adults in their lives.

But while I hope gaming can do that, I can't expect it to do that, and they need to engaged in pursuits away from the computer anyway.


I will never understand why people think that age is an excuse for immaturity online. In my opinion the greatest thing about the internet is that you can interact with people without the difference between your ages interfering with communication, being annoying and using the excuse of being in your teens destroys that in my eyes. In a mass electronic meeting area like a guild, holding people to different standards seems to be the first step towards a /gdisband.

Reading through your description of your guild’s issue with the ages of players it seems to me that the people complaining about behavior were more correct than not, it’s time for those kids to start shaping up. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but I would be lumped in the same age group as your “younger players,” so it really touches a nerve with me. In every forum, guild, or even chat group I have been active in the response of people finding out my age is always along the lines of: “Holy crap, I thought you were in your 20s!”

This isn’t to say that all guilds should turn into formal places that don’t accept any goofiness, but the key to being liked online is to know when to stop being immature when goofing around and concentrating when your guild wants to discuss something important or get down that new boss. And as for being uncomfortable about the conversations your children listen to on vent, all the ones I’ve ever experienced pale in comparison to standard fare in high school locker rooms. Unless you protect your children from people their own age in real life with the same furor you’d protect them online they’re probably not going to hear anything new.


Exactly the same issue was raised in another online environment, but a Swedish one - LunarStorm.se. This is a huge community that had some problems with predators and therefore now require that users sign up with the Swedish equivalent of their social security number, which among other things gives their age. They then filter content so teens can't see online chat, for instance, from older users, and vice versa. Parents have complained because they now can't see what their teens can see - whereas they wanted to be in the same environmment as their kids.

Daniel Skog at HUMlab talked about this at a workshop I was at there in August - he knows lots more about it if anyone's interested. Here's his website with publications etc.


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I'm a Warcraft guild leader of a large guild on Hakkar realm, Horde side. We may in fact be the largest guild on the server (neck in neck with 2 others). Nevertheless, the issue of age has come up often becuase, while we have the numbers (~450 members), the problem is gchat sometimes gets raunchy, dumb, or otherwise childish. I knew that many of our guild members were younger, but myself and my officers are all older (we mostly have kids ourselves). The issue we are struggling with is "what to do with the kids in the guild". One of our members has suggested that I would liable should anything happen due to "curruption of a minor" issue. I'm not a lawyer, but it's had me thinking. So, i polled about 200 of our members and lo and behold the median age was around 19; but there were some 100+ members under the age of 18. Our youngest member claims he is 11.


What should a guild do? Kick members who are under 18? 16? is there a legal difference between a 13 year old and a 16 year old? We have cleaned up our guild chat recently and have started enforcing a "game talk only" rule in the guild channel. A bunch of people /gquit; and now guild chat is much much better.

But i still cant help but wondering? Should a guild restrict the age of its members? Shoudl the reason be simply becuase the kids should be with kids and the adults with adults or ... should guilds limit their memberships becuase there is a possible legal issue here?


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